Brett Lee is renowned for being one of the most dynamic fast bowlers in history, but now he’s embarking on a new venture with a slight change of pace — playing the lead role in the new Australian film, UnINDIAN.
Highlighting the complexities of wooing a woman from a different culture, UnINDIAN is a romantic comedy with a lot of heart and a little spice.
Brett plays Will, an English teacher who falls in love with an Australian woman of Indian origin, Meera (played by internationally acclaimed actress Tannishtha Chatterjee). But falling in love with an Australian man is not that simple for Meera — it’s scandalous and un-Indian.
Brett says UnINDIAN is a film with a positive message, as well as a bit of humour and romance.
“When I first looked at the script, it wasn’t a Bollywood script as a lot of people probably thought it would be,” he says. “It was an Australian film with a lot of Indian flavour and spice, and I love the message that it sends to the audience.
“I’ve said all along that love has no boundaries, and whether you’re black or white, green or blue, where you’re from or what your religion is, you can’t help who you fall in love with.”
Director Anupam Sharma says the film is a light-hearted look at the migrant experience in Australia.
“Australian stories are not about a particular culture, they’re about modern contemporary cities where you hear and see different people, different sounds and different accents,” he says.
“We wanted to create stereotypes and then break them apart… my favourite line in the film is when Meera says she’s ‘not Australian enough for Australia yet, not Indian enough for India anymore’, because that’s the crack in which every migrant falls.
“I wanted to have a tongue-in-cheek treatment of some of the nuances of Indian culture in Australia – the fascination with white skin, defined roles for women, the way Indians deal with homosexuality and so forth. These nuances were fine-tuned and became something which the Indian diaspora will relate to and non-Indians can understand equally.
“It really is a slice of real life.”
Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee has starred in countless Bollywood productions, but she says UnINDIAN is unlike any other film she’s made.
“There are some Indian films that have been made about mixed couples, but usually they play into clichés — you know, ‘India means this, West means that’. What I really liked about this film is that it establishes certain clichés like that, like Meera’s parents trying to marry her off, but then it breaks them.
“Meera’s character is crafted in such a contemporary way as a single mother who has a job. She’s not looking for a man in her life, but when she falls in love she follows her heart. She defies traditions, but she follows traditions, too — she doesn’t defy her parents by fighting with them, but by actually confronting them and explaining herself to them.
“The last three projects I did before UnINDIAN were very hardcore feminist arthouse films. When I came here, Anupam took me to all these beautiful locations in Sydney. In every scene, I felt like I was holidaying and flirting with a very handsome man (Brett). I was just having a blast.”
With his first lead role behind him, Brett says he can’t wait for his next film.
“I think the next film should be called Half Indian,” he laughs, “and then UnAustralian after that!”
UnINDIAN is in cinemas from Thursday 15 October.